For the past 15 years, I have enjoyed the distinct privilege of editing many compelling and even life-changing memoirs, novels and non-fiction books. Few, if any, can match Martha Halda’s story.
On October 8, 1999, Martha suffered a horrific car accident. She was pronounced clinically dead three times. So dire was her condition that her sons, Aaron
(then 14) and Nathan (then 11), were brought into her room to say goodbye. Martha remains the only person in the 50-year history of Palomar Pomerado Hospital (North San Diego County) to survive after scoring 0 on her CRAM (Clinical Risk Assessment and Management). Those who score 0 to 1 almost always die; those who score 2 to 3 typically die, or live in a vegetative or severely impaired state. She recovered fully – even completing the 2002 Dublin Marathon – and to embarking on a life purpose that informs everything she does: giving and receiving love, and experiencing each moment to its fullest.
During her passing over, she had a profound near death experience that expanded the deeper purpose and meaning of her Christian walk and life, as well as giving her a much more clear understanding of once vague notions of heaven. That experience, how it blessed, transformed and shifted her life, and how she carried it forward, is covered in her memoir, A Taste of Eternity, now making the rounds among major publishers through literary agent Dana Newman.
This is the first of a two-part interview with Martha. During this Easter and Passover season, enjoy one of the most transformative and life-affirming interviews you may ever read.
Word Journeys: What two or three things from your near death experience stand out, because of the way they impacted your life moving forward?
Martha Halda: I’d shout it from every mountaintop if need be; We are to share love, to all God’s people and creatures. I was shown love is the most important thing to give. I have a tendency to tell people, “I love you”. Unfortunately, in our society, this can come off odd (laughs), but love to me is not only physical. I want to take the opportunity to tell the people I care about; it may be my last chance. Another thing I saw is that all life is connected. There are no accidents in life, only providential events. That has helped me during the more difficult stages. It is up to us, to choose which way we direct our life, according to events.
WJ: How does that work on a daily basis?
MH: I now try to take better notice of things when they are occurring, knowing there is a lesson I want to learn from them the first time. That way, they won’t have to be presented again, which usually is much harder lesson.
WJ: What are a couple of misconceptions that people who haven’t been through a near death experience carry about them?
MH (chuckles): There are a few. I’ll break them out:
1. Some doctors insist it is only a neurochemical reaction to the dying brain. That amuses me. In my experience, the doctors that think this way are ones dealing with death often, such as oncologists. I feel it is a form of denial or emotional protection. Others say it’s caused by electrical charges of the neutrons misfiring while people die, similar to the side effects of drugs like peyote, psilocybin, or an LSD trip. I certainly don’t want to suggest this pertains to the majority of doctors; for me it was the exception.
2. That you cannot die and come back. I have been treated as if I were working on the side of evil by sharing this experience. Some church people do follow an approach that basically says a near death experience would never be a possibility for a follower of Christ. I am a Christian, I did have that experience, and many Christians find comfort in what I share.
3. Some people are either out of touch, or narrow-minded. My first rehab hospital nurse was this way. When I reviewed my injuries with her, I told her, “I went to Heaven.” She gripped my arm and said, “never tell anyone, or they will never let you out of here.” To her, I was crazy.
WJ: You write very specifically and deeply about your near death experience, showing how the concept of time doesn’t exist in heaven. Could you elaborate on how you moved from one place to another, one realm to another, without the feeling of time?
MH: Time had no relevance. The truly powerful currency came from what was I to learn, the knowledge, and life’s lessons. My entire forty years of life (as of 1999) was shown to me via imagery, a type of ESP, which included all the human senses. I felt all the feelings I gave someone, received, or caused a person to have. My angel and I traveled from one place to another drifting, floating, like watching a butterfly or hummingbird. We just sort of up and went, gliding to the next place of my review, divinely guided.
WJ: Right after your near death experience, you were put into a medically induced coma. Were you able to absorb your experience while in a comatose state?
MH: Many people think that coma patients are not aware of their surroundings, that you are not receptive, but you actually are. I could hear much of what was taking place and comprehend what was being said.
During my coma, I was also able to reflect on Heaven. I had more visits from my Angel. When I became distressed or my pastor was doing laying-on-of-hands healing, she was there; it was like looking out a window to her. She offered me peace, comforting me, reminding me that I would be all right, that God loved me and was looking over me. The veil of Heaven had been lifted. I had seen the other side, the sweetness, the love, the way in which we are a portion of each other, the way God had intended our lives to be.
WJ: What happened when you first came out of the coma?
MH: When the doctors began lifting me out, the first thing that struck me the wrong way was a country music CD playing; it sounded like a sad woman wailing. Then the TV … it seemed evil to me. I remember asking a nurse through eye movement, tears streaming down my face, to turn it off. The news was so depressing … you can imagine what I thought of daytime TV dramas! (laughs)
WJ: What brought you back to this life – when medical indications, and your own feelings while in eternity, made it seem you would not come back?
MH: My boys, Aaron and Nathan. At first, I didn’t accept that I was to return to life. I begged and bartered to stay in Heaven; it was so lovely, I wanted to stay forever. As part of my barter, I was shown by God the Father, The Trinity, The Omniscient One, The Ultimate Power, Divine Source, The Absolute, Cosmic Creator – whatever you choose to call it – what would come in my life if I returned … or if I stayed. I saw many horrific things would happen to my boy’s lives, how negatively their personalities would be affected by my death.
Then I was shown my life if I came back, the negatives that would happen. It would not be easy. I saw trials, and heartbreaks. I was given a choice, which way to go. After weighing the two, and seeing the future of my sons, I instantly chose to come back. I wanted to be there for my babies, to love them.
I made a promise to God, if he let me return to my boys, I would tell of his great love, and hence A Taste of Eternity. It was my choice, but it combined my defiance, some reverse psychology, and the presence of parental wisdom.